MANCHESTER CITY are stepping up their interest in Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi.
According to the Mirror, Etihad chiefs believe they can lure the Argentinian to the Premier League and have made him their No1 summer transfer target.
City are ready to launch a £100million bid for the 29-year-old whose future in Spain has been plunged into doubt in recent weeks.
Messi’s father and adviser, Jorge, is currently in Barcelona but will not speak to Nou Camp bosses over the possibility of extending his contract that has only 16 months left.
And Barca could be ready to cash in on the five-time world player of the year if he does not resign in the summer.
La Liga’s tough policy on wages could also provide City with an opportunity to swoop.
Luis Suarez and Neymar have already put pen-to-paper on new deals and Messi signing would create a problem with the club adhering to salary sanctions.
Clubs must not spend more than 70 per cent of their income on wages and Messi is already on an astronomical £20million-a-year after tax.
And City’s hopes of signing Messi were only helped with the Catalan club’s 4-0 Champions League humiliation against Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday night.
The Barca bigwigs know a change is needed at the Nou Camp as they come to an end of an era and with Messi approaching his 30th birthday they could offload the striker.